Seven candidates vying for Waitaki mayoralty

Voters in Waitaki will be spoilt for choice for mayoral candidates in October's local elections, with seven candidates vying for the mayoral chains - but voters in one council ward will be unable to vote for a single council representative.

Two-term mayor Alex Familton's decision not to stand for re-election has thrown the race for mayor wide open, with Felicity Butcher, Jim Hopkins, Gary Kircher, Greg Smith, Eric Spittal, Helen Stead and David Wilson all in the running for the mayoralty.

However, although voters in the Ahuriri ward will be able to go to the polls to elect a new mayor, they may have to wait until next year to elect both a representative to the Waitaki District Council and a full community board.

Nominations for October's local elections closed yesterday, with nobody willing to put themselves forward for the Ahuriri ward seat on the Waitaki District Council. Council electoral officer David Blair said that would mean a by-election would be required.

''When the [October] election is over we will have to have a by-election, which will include the Ahuriri Community Board, because we only got three [nominations] and we need five, and we will also include the Oamaru Licensing Trust ward 1, because we need three and we only got two.''

However, a by-election would not be held until the end of January or early February, he said.

Mayor Alex Familton said the situation in the Ahuriri ward, which covered the townships of Otematata and Omarama, was ''an anomaly'' given the ''quality'' of people in the area.

The vacant seat would not cause a problem to the working of the new council in October, he said.

Ahuriri Cr Craig Dawson announced in January he would step down at the next election. Yesterday he said it was ''a shame'', but the costs of travelling to Oamaru from Otematata and Omarama was an issue for many people.

Mr Familton's decision not to seek a third term would also mean three neighbouring central South Island councils will be headed by new mayors for the first time in almost a decade.

Both Waimate Mayor John Coles and Timaru Mayor Janie Annear, who have held their posts since 2004, will not stand in October.

The Timaru mayoralty would be contested by councillors Damon Odey and Steve Earnshaw, and councillors Craig Rowley and Sharyn Cain would contest the Waimate mayoralty.


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